Oh man I’ve been waiting to get to this one for a long time. I love World Tour Heather, like really love World Tour Heather, and I really want to explain why in the best way possible. So this entry is going to be a little different than the norm, because the way I think is best to articulate just why WT Heather works is to approach this in a different way then before.
So sit back, relax, get a glass of Juggy Chunks and a bag of Total Drama Yum Yum Happy Go Time Candy Fish Tails, and put on you’re reading glasses, because I’m gonna tell you a little story.
Part 1: Villainous Beginnings
To fully understand WT Heather we have to start at the beginning, and that being Heather’s time during TDI. She came into this show knowing what to expect, and out of the 22 competitors battling for the prize, she was the only one who had a plan. She did her homework and knew how shows like Total Drama work(assuming other shows of its type exist in the universe) so she realizes the best way to win the show is to do it the same way she runs her normal life, having underlings. So she decides to form a tight knit alliance, targeting Lindsay and Beth, who are easy to control due to lack of intelligence and desire for companionship respectively. She runs the alliance much like she runs her clique in school with an iron fist, being aggressive and domineering not only because that’s just who she is and it’s how she’s lived her life up to this point, but she also does it because she knows the game. Let’s use Survivor(the show Total Drama is based on) as an example, in Survivor it’s never the super nice goody two shoes competitors who play fair and with loyalty who win is it. No they may make it decently far before getting inevitably betrayed or targeted for being a threat(see Geoff and Bridgette), you know who does win? It’s the players who are willing to get dirty, to betray others, to lie and who are willing to compromise to get victory, it is a game after all so are they really all that bad for playing that way. Heather knows that and plays the game the only way she sees as successful, ruthlessly. And for a while things go well for her, the Gophers win challenges, her alliance mates remain loyal and despite some friction with the others she remains safe for one reason or another during eliminations, but soon the cracks begin to form. FIrst Beth fed up with her actions turns on her, on top of that the rest of her team(particularly Leshawna and Gwen) start to push back against her, but Heather still manages to survive, getting rid of Beth and still keeping Lindsay in her alliance, she doesn’t let the hate get to her, because she has a plan.
Her plans end up working more often than not, she manages to trick the others into booting Trent, cheats her way to a couple invincibility wins, drops Lindsay to further her own game, and consistently manages to stay even when the odds are against her, but things fall apart at the final 3. After being the only person with a concrete plan, she ends up in the final 3 but this is where everything falls apart for her, to go back to the Survivor comparison, sure the super morally good players never win, but on the flip side neither do the super mean players. Players like Russel Hantz or Jonny Fairplay, the kind of competitors who openly antagonize others, play extra dirty and in general embrace being an asshole, they may make it far but their actions always come back to bite them eventually, and they usually lose to players who are well liked but willing to work with anyone to get ahead(Owen) or the ones who keep quiet and bide their time and never make themselves into threats(Gwen). That is what happens to her; all her bad actions and attitude result in both Gwen and Owen teaming against her, now with no more alliances or any way out she takes it until she can take no more, ending with her losing just before the end. So after being the only person who had a strategy since day 1, the person who arguably deserved to win the most, loses to two of the competitors who she not only hated but play in direct opposition to her game philosophy, a loner who opened up to others and gained their trust and respect and managed to win fairly, and a lovable big man who could get his arm cut off and still remain positive about it, in other words she loses to her opposites, her way of playing her way of living life in general is definitively proved to not work. So for all the talk of her perfect strategy, what does she have to show for it at the end, a measly 3rd place finish, being publicly humiliating with a series of dares, being hated by just about everyone, and managing to lose both her hair and her dignity, she gave it her all and had nothing to show for it. But that wasn’t where her things ended for her.
Part 2: A Villain’s Lament
Next came TDA, Heather’s second chance if you will, or her season of consequences. After spending an entire season lying, betraying and generally being a jerk to just about everyone, naturally no one trusts her. She not only has to face the embarrassment of having no hair, but she is a pariah despised by everyone. While the last season focused on Heather as a villain, portraying her only in negative lights, this time around we get to learn more about her as a person. First and foremost as much as she brushes it off or ignores it, she doesn’t enjoy being hated(I mean who would?). We see this in her conversation with Harold during the TDI special, and in her bonding with Leshawna over there shared pariah status,I mean just look at her face when Lindsay and Beth shun her.She may have played the villain but that doesn’t mean she enjoys the fallout that being a villain incurs. She gets flak from just about everyone when in reality she doesn’t do all that much wrong this season, sure she’s still kind of a jerk, but so are Duncan, Justin, and even Leshawna at times. The only person who treats her with any respect is Harold, who does try and genuinely reach out to her, but she still has some bad habits and still has the mean girl mentality so she pretty coldy rejects him(even when it’s shown she at least admires him in some respects). She essentially spent the entire season on borrowed time, given her hated status, the only reason she wasn’t booted from her team earlier is because two of her teammates quit, but she leaves in a much better fashion than the first time, with a new friend and her head held high(even if that head was bald) but at the same time she still went through a whole lot of hardship, all for nothing. TDA plays an important role in the story of Heather, it’s the season where she learns a little humility(the hard way), where we get to see she isn’t as bad as we once believed, and it plants the seeds of what was to come
Part 3: A New Approach
So now that I’ve got all the setup out of the way, it’s time to get to the main event, Heather in World Tour. By this point Heather had been through two distinct phases, she spent Island being the vile and detestable main antagonist, then Action came around and humanized her to an extent as she was forced to be on the defensive, what was in store for her this time. Heather once again qualifies for Total Drama and once again finds herself in a bad position, still distrusted and hated by all, but like usual she shoulders on determined to win. She still has the problem of having no allies, she tries to fix this by befriending new girl Sierra.This moment right here is incredibly important because it shows how she has changed, before she was domineering with her alliances always demanding things from others and giving nothing in return, but her time on Island and Action taught her a valuable lesson, you get farther with the carrot than the stick. So she actually tries being nice to people this season(As alien as that is for her) and actually helps them with their problems, examples being her attempting to befriend Sierra, encouraging DJ to not give up when his team was down to one, and even giving Cody genuine advice on how to deal with Sierra(Being the only person to actually help him with her). Hell this new streak of niceness even extends to the non strategic, Heather has grown to the point that she does genuine good things even when they don’t directly benefit her, like her comforting Courtney after her break up or her giving Sierra a wig and a wheelchair out of sympathy(cause she really does understand the pain of being bald). Heather really does grow as a person, she learned that being the bad guy didn’t get her anywhere so she tried things a different way this time round. Too bad the others don’t see it that way, she once again is subjected to insults and in some cases downright assault against her just because of her past actions. This is all compounded with her biggest threat of the season, a certain Spanish mystery man who takes control of the game.
The Aleheather rivalry is legendary, not just because of how well they play off of one another, but what he does to Heather’s character. From the moment she sees him Heather knows just what kind of person Alejandro is, you know game recognizes game and all that. She sees through his noble and charming veneer, to the manipulative scoundrel that lies beneath, and she hates him because of it. But she doesn’t hate him because what he’s doing is wrong, no she hates him out of jealousy. Because when you really break it down Alejandro does what Heather does. He lies, he cheats, he manipulates, and he comes in determined and with a plan, the only difference between the? Alejandro actually pulls it off, it’s like Noah said he’s Heather with social skills. When Heather sees Alejandro, she not only sees a manipulative jerk, no she sees all her flaws thrown back at her, he takes the strategy she had and tweaks it so it actually works. Instead of being antagonist and smug(i.e how he actually is), he hides it under an outer layer of kindness and charm, he’s everything she wasn’t back during TDI. But he’s not just like her he in many ways is worse than her, she may have been bad but at least she was upfront about it, Alejandro callously plays with people’s emotions and then tosses them away without a second thought. She spends a good portion of the season attempting to one up him, to prove not only to others but to herself that she is better than him and no matter what tricks he pulls they don’t work on her. Sadly once again her reputation comes back to bite her as she becomes the girl who cried wolf, desperately trying to convince anyone who’ll listen that old Al isn’t what he seems, but no one gives her the time of day. Even Leshawna, who she buried the hatchet with in the previous season, doesn’t just ignore her, but violently attacks her when all she was doing was being a good friend and trying to prevent her from becoming Al’s pawn. That’s the thing about Al that really gets to Heather, he does everything she did and worse, yet people still love him. Heather is the devil to everyone else because of what she did, and as shown before it really does get to her even if she doesn’t show it,but in comes Alejandro this unbelievably perfect person, who not only crushes people like a villain but does it while they sing his praises. Even by the time of the finale once everyone knows how he really is ,he still manages to get more support than Heather, this is in spite of the fact that she really toned down the villain activity this season, and she tried to warn them all about him.
But even with all the odds stacked against her Heather managed to soldier on. Seriously if it wasn’t for Alejandro and his total domination of the season Heather would easily have the best gameplay of the season, no matter how many hardships she faces she always manages to survive votes(Without the plot armor she had in Island), be it by allying herself with the right people, or smartly using other people’s drama to her advantage. She scratches and claws her way through the season and that leads to her managing to get all the way to the finale, and that is where it all comes together.I say with no hyperbole that Hawaiian Punch may just be my favorite episode in the entire series, and a good reason why is what happens with Heather, really this whole episode is not just the grand conclusion to World Tour or the Gen 1 era, but to Heather’s arc. So after spending the entire season fighting, getting treated like dirt by just about everyone, and never even having a consistent ally, Heather ends up in the final two with her arch nemesis, the man who managed to block her at every pass, who beat her at her own game, who frustrates her in just about every way, Alejandro. Now remember back in Island when her bad actions the whole season eventually cost her in the end, well her actions once again come back at her this season but a little differently. When the final two are offered the chance at helpers Heather actually gets two volunteers, Harold and Cody, two nerds who she would’ve never given a second thought to in any other scenario, but while she turned away Harold’s attempt at friendship in Action, she took a softer approach this time and actually managed to becoming friends with Cody(well as close as she can get), she learned from her mistakes and her new approach actually paid off. Now here she was fighting against the worst villain the series had seen at this point, with two actual loyal helpers alongside her, but things weren’t complete just yet. The challenge takes its course and her and Al stay neck and neck, until a screw up from Cody causes her to be trapped in a cage letting Alejandro take the lead. It seemed like history was repeating itself for Heather, once again all her effort, all of her hardships and pain, was going to be all for nothing, once again she would fall just before the finish line, and worst of all she was going to lose at her own game. But then, in what is in the running for my favorite moment in the entire series(tied with Harold’s beatboxing) Cody runs up to Heather and simply tells her “You can’t let the bad guy win”.
It’s been established a lot up to this point that no one seems to like Heather, no one on the show, the TDA special showed that after the show no one at her school likes her, hell her TDI video log shows that even her own parents don’t like her(no wonder she’s so cynical), deep down underneath all the anger and insults Heather wants what most people want, to be liked(even if she would never say it). That is what makes not only this moment but this arc so utterly fantastic, for the first time in her life Heather is the good guy, not the hated villain or the manipulative witch, the bonafide crowd favorite fighting against an evil force, and the look on her face says it all. So she finds her second wind and pushes forward with a new resolve, not one driven by greed, jealousy, or anger, but a drive born out of a desire to beat the villain and win the day as a hero. So just as Alejandro is about to claim victory, Heather catches up confesses her feelings towards him(which is sweet) but using Al’s feelings against him subsequently delivers the most satisfying nutshot in fiction, beating him at his own game and much like Gwen and Owen did to her in Island, she embarasses him in front of the world and costs him the victory he was so close to achieving, just like her all his plans and schemes were ultimately for nothing. So this saga ends with Heather, after countless injures(Seriously she has the most injuries of any female contestant), being subjected to abject humiliation, become hated by just about everyone in her life, after losing not only her hair but her goddamn tooth on national television, Heather fights to claim what is easily the most earned victory in the entire series. And Heather gets that win with a smile on her face, pride in her heart, and most shocking of all after spending the good portion of 3 seasons as public enemy number 1, the cheers and admiration of her peers ringing in her ears getting to soak in the glory of being the hero. Then stupid Ezekiel takes it for a stupid Lord of The Rings gag, thus ruining the conclusion to this fantastic arc.(But I won’t hold that against Heather)
Part 4: Conclusion
If I haven’t made it blindingly clear WT Heather has my favorite arc in the entire series. Whether it was on purpose or not Fresh managed to create an incredible 3 season arc from Heather, as she grew from a detestable villain to a sympathetic Anti-Hero protagonist. It is an amazing feat how they took the character who we all wanted to lose, the original villain who took out our favorites and feuded with the main heroes, the one who seemed completely irredeemable, and then somehow not only made us feel bad for her, but made us want to see her win. Now I want to be clear here, while this is a redemption in a sense it doesn’t make her a bonafide hero, she still does bad things this season, but the point of her arc isn’t to completely turn her character around, its to soften her, show her growth as a person over the course of those three seasons, from Mean girl, to sympathetic nominal Anti Hero. She isn’t perfect, but she was a whole lot better than when she started, she wasn’t the hero we expected in the end, but she was the hero nonetheless. The only and I repeat only complaint I have about her this season, is after all she went through this was one of the two season where the winners didn’t get to keep the money, which does lessen the impact of her final win a bit(But not enough to ruin it). What can I say that I haven’t already said, I love good stories, I love good villains to sorta hero stories, and this is one of the best, it builds on what came before and is what catapulted Heather to my number 2 favorite character in the series overall, but if we rank based on a seasonal basis then WT Heather is my favorite character in the whole series.
In conclusion, there were arcs before this one and there were character arcs after it, and maybe if we’re lucky there will be more in the future. But for my money no story in the entirety of Total Drama past present or future, will ever match the emotions, the longevity, or the sheer satisfaction, of the Rise, Fall and subsequent Victory of the Queen Bee.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
“Just because she’s a bad guy, doesn’t mean she’s *bad* guy “
End Note: So there it is folks hope it was worth the wait, because man did it take a while to write(I hope you aren’t expecting anything this big again). I hope my method of detailing just why I love WT Heather as much as I do was effective, because I really wanted to go in depth on Heather whole 3 season arc.
This one’s been rattling around in my brain for a while now, fun fact doing this was the whole reason I started these rankings. Yep one day I just started think about this arc and how much I love it, and I found this subreddit and wanted to make a post, but I thought it would be weird in isolation. This train of thought eventually lead me to ranking the characters by season(Because I do love ranking things) and deciding to turn that into a series. So I hope you understand just how much I was wanting to get to this one.
But since I’ve already made you read far too much at this point(Serious props to anyone who actually read it all the way through) and it’s late at night as I post this, so I’m signing off. I hope you enjoyed this, make sure to leave a comment about what you think, it makes me know doing this was worth it you know.
Be sure to look out for the final roundup post tomorrow.
And finally Thanks for Reading 🙂